When I was walking on the beach yesterday, I thought about a time roughly a hundred years ago, before I ever got married ..... the first time ..... when I went walking on the beach alone at night and wound up with blood poisoning.
Now that I've ruined the punch line, you don't have to read the rest of this if you don't want to.
I realize you don't have to read ANY of it if you don't want to.
Nurse Jane lived in a condo on Cocoa Beach, and I went to visit. I'm mildly surprised that I didn't just move in with her. It wouldn't be the first time I had done that. I mean, her building was RIGHT. ON. THE. BEACH. I'm sure that's what Heaven is like.
I went for a walk late one night, mainly because it just felt so RIGHT that I could merely walk out her door and be on the beach. Okay, down the hall and down the elevator and around the building, but you get the idea.
That was back in the day when I had no fear, and walking in the dark on the beach didn't faze me at all. I was striding along purposefully, probably contemplating all the strife and worries associated with being a 19-year-old college student. You know, what to wear to the first football game. Heavy stuff.
I stepped on something with the heel of my left foot. I distinctly remember there was a slight hesitation, then whatever it was punctured my heel (my feet were pretty tough back then). I sort of picked my foot up and shook it so that whatever it was came out. Then I continued down the beach. It wasn't gushing blood or anything, not that I could have seen it in the dark. But no sharks came strutting out of the ocean to make a meal out of my mangled heel, so I figured the injury wasn't too bad. I have no idea what I stepped on. It could have been a shell, a fishhook, a piece of glass, a beer can.
When I got back to Nurse Jane's condo, I decided I would continue my health-conscious ways (right before or after I smoked a cigarette, I'm sure) and walk up the stairs. I don't think I mentioned that she lived on the 17th floor. My foot didn't hurt terribly. And it wasn't bleeding.
Until the middle of the night. It throbbed. And ached. And throbbed some more.
The next morning, when I had slept very little and experienced a great deal of pain, Nurse Jane took me to the doctor. And I am almost positive she didn't have the money to do that. But because I was 19, I fully expected that someone would take care of me; it certainly wasn't MY responsibility.
At the doctor's office, they took down my information (I probably let Nurse Jane fill out the forms too, because I was self-absorbed like that) and took me back to an exam room. Nurse Jane waited in the ..... waiting room. That sounds so redundant.
After an hour or so of waiting for someone, anyone in a white coat to come through the door, I mustered all the 19-year-old righteous indignation I could, and I marched right out the door. I probably wasn't familiar with the concept of being worked into an afternoon of scheduled appointments. I probably wasn't familiar with anything that didn't fit nicely into my little world.
At any rate, we saved the money we would have spent at the doctor's office, because that was back in the day before they got smart and started making you pay before you even sit down in the waiting room.
I don't remember what we did the rest of that day, or even whether or not my foot bothered me. That evening, however, long after doctor's offices were closed for the day even if we HAD been able to find one that hadn't heard about the petulant patient with the punctured pad, I was sitting with my ankle crossed over my knee.
It looked like someone had taken a red felt-tip pen and drawn a crooked line from about the middle of my leg down to my ankle.
I asked Nurse Jane, who wasn't an official nurse at that time, but had nursed me and all the other family members as long as I can remember, "Does that look like a red streak to you?"
She responded, "Get in the car."
After several hours in the ER at Cape Canaveral Hospital and several injections, I went home all better. I'm a lot more careful about walking on the beach now, and the sun would have to go down about 6:00 PM for me to take a walk in the dark.
It would be nice, though, to know what it was I stepped on.